Hagia Sophia Tickets
Tickets
English
EUR
Contents

Inside Hagia Sophia: Exploring the Imperial Gate, Sultans' Lodge, & More

Once a Byzantine cathedral, then an Ottoman mosque, then a museum, and now a mosque again, Hagia Sophia is a renowned architectural gem in Istanbul. With its awe-inspiring grand dome, intricate mosaics, and fusion of Byzantine and Islamic elements, the Hagia Sophia is a standing testament to human creativity, resilience, and the harmonious coexistence of different civilizations.

What’s inside Hagia Sophia?

As you step inside the Hagia Sophia, you are greeted by the breathtaking Grand Dome, with the walls adorned with intricate carvings and mosaics. These wall artworks narrate the story of several religious events, which Hagia Sophia has witnessed in the many years of its being. The imperial lodge offers a beautiful view of the nave and dome, while the Deesis Mosaic evokes profound emotions with its portrayal of Christ, Mary, and John the Baptist. From the mesmerizing Mihrab to the enchanting Minbar, each detail reflects the harmonious fusion of Byzantine and Islamic influences. 

The Grand Dome Inside the Hagia Sophia

The Grand Dome

The Grand Dome inside the Hagia Sophia is an engineering marvel of its time. It's sheer size and intricate ornamentations will surely leave you in awe. Look up and admire the beautiful Byzantine mosaics that adorn its surface, showcasing scenes from the life of Jesus, the Virgin Mary, and various saints.

The Emperor’s Door Inside the Hagia Sophia

The Emperor’s Door

This door is located towards the southern side of the Hagia Sophia. This entrance was reserved exclusively for the Byzantine Emperors and added an aura of exclusivity and grandeur to their lifestyles. It has several intricate marble carvings on its surface that are a testament to the opulence of the Ottoman Sultans. 

The Imperial Lodge Inside the Hagia Sophia

The Imperial Lodge

Enter the Imperial Lodge on the second floor and take a moment to imagine the Byzantine rulers experiencing the spiritual splendor of the Hagia Sophia from an elevated space. The Imperial Lodge also has several ornate furnishings on its surface and offers fantastic views of the dome and the nave. 

The Dessis Mosaic Inside the Hagia Sophia

The Dessis Mosaic

The Dessis Mosaic is located in the southern part of the Hagia Sophia gallery. It depicts Christ enthroned between the Virgin Mary and John the Baptist, who is shown pleading with him to intercede on behalf of humanity. The exquisite craftsmanship and emotional depth of this mosaic make it a must-see within the Hagia Sophia.

The Wishing Column Inside the Hagia Sophia

The Wishing Column

The Wishing Column on the northern side of the Hagia Sophia is one of the most popular sections within the Hagia Sophia. It is rumored that if you put your thumb on the small hole, rotate it 3 times, and make a wish, and your thumb is wet, the wish will be fulfilled. It is also believed that the Wishing Column possesses healing powers. 

The Mihrab Inside the Hagia Sophia

The Mihrab

It is an ornate niche facing the direction of Mecca, located within the apse of the Hagia Sophia. This relic was added when the Hagia Sophia was converted into a mosque. Its rich colors and intricate designs continue to highlight the fusion of Byzantine and Islamic architectural styles, symbolizing the harmonious coexistence of different cultures. 

The Minbar Inside the Hagia Sophia

The Minbar

You will spot the Minbar near the Mihrab. It is a raised pulpit that was used by the imams to deliver sermons. The intricate woodwork and decorative motifs show the opulence and craftsmanship of the Ottoman artisans. The Minbar is an important addition that solidifies Hagia Sophia’s significance as a mosque. 

The Weeping Column Inside the Hagia Sophia

The Weeping Column

Conclude your exploration by observing the Weeping Column in the north aisle. According to popular belief, this column possesses healing properties. It is said that the moisture on its surface comes from countless visitors seeking blessings and solace. The Weeping Column beautifully captures the enduring legacy of Hagia Sophia’s faith. 

How to get inside the Hagia Sophia?

Hagia Sophia is open daily throughout the year. We recommend you book Hagia Sophia guided tours to explore the hidden gems and get to know the detailed history of the Hagia Sophia. Please avoid visiting the mosque during noon prayers on Fridays as it remains closed to visitors during those hours. 

Hagia Sophia visitor tips & guidelines

  • Remove your shoes: Make sure to remove your shoes before entering the Hagia Sophia. It is a prayer site, actively used as a mosque. 
  • Cover your heads: You have to cover your heads before entering the Hagia Sophia. Head scarves are available for free at the entrance of the Hagia Sophia. 
  • Wear appropriate clothing: Since Hagia Sophia is a mosque, we recommend wearing clothes that cover your knees and shoulders inside the monument. 
  • Book guided tours: It is best to book Hagia Sophia guided tours to get a deeper understanding of the history and culture of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. 
  • Avoid visiting on Fridays: Hagia Sophia remains closed only during noon prayers on Fridays. Please avoid entering the mosque during those hours. 



Book Hagia Sophia tours

Hagia Sophia Admission Tickets
Instant Confirmation
Mobile Ticket
1 hr. - 10 hr.
Audio Guide
More details
from
€31.50
Hagia Sophia Guided Tour with Skip-the-Line Tickets
Free Cancellation
Instant Confirmation
Mobile Ticket
1 hr.
Guided Tour
More details
Combo: Hagia Sophia Mosque & Blue Mosque Guided Tour with Tickets
Free Cancellation
Instant Confirmation
Mobile Ticket
3 hr.
Guided Tour
More details
Combo: Hagia Sophia Guided Tour with Optional Topkapi Palace or Basilica Cistern Skip-the-Line Tickets
Free Cancellation
Instant Confirmation
Mobile Ticket
1 min.
Audio Guide
More details
Hagia Sophia History & Experience Museum Tickets
Instant Confirmation
Mobile Ticket
10 min.
More details
Combo: Topkapi Palace + Hagia Sophia + Blue Mosque Guided Tours with Skip-the-Line Tickets
Free Cancellation
Instant Confirmation
Mobile Ticket
1 hr.
Audio Guide
More details
Istanbul Top Museums 3-Day Pass: Guided Tour with Entry Tickets
Free Cancellation
Instant Confirmation
Mobile Ticket
1 min.
Guided Tour
More details

Frequently asked questions about what’s Inside Hagia Sophia

What is inside the Hagia Sophia?

The Hagia Sophia had been a functioning orthodox cathedral in the Byzantine era and was later turned into a mosque. Its interiors feature a blend of traditional Ottoman and Byzantine styles with European influences. Look out for its Grand Dome, Weeping Column, and the Mihrab and the Minbar. 

Can I go inside the Hagia Sophia?

Yes, you can enter the Hagia Sophia anytime you want to explore its intricate mosaics and carvings. 

Can I take a tour of the Hagia Sophia?

Yes, you can book Hagia Sophia guided tours to delve deeper into the history and culture of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

What are some must-see highlights inside the Hagia Sophia?

The Grand Central Dome, Imperial Lodge, the Emperor’s Gate, the Minbar, and the Mihrab are some must-see attractions inside the Hagia Sophia. Each of these elements adds to the beauty and opulence of the monument and reminds the visitors of how different religions co-exist peacefully within its realm. 

Who designed the Hagia Sophia?

The Hagia Sophia had been commissioned by Emperor Justinian I in the 6th century. Anthemius of Tralles, a mathematician collaborated with Isidore of Miletus to create the innovative Dome and giant Basilica. Initially, it had been built as an Eastern Catholic cathedral and was later converted into a mosque during the Ottoman reign in Istanbul. 

Where is Hagia Sophia located?

The Hagia Sophia is situated on Sultan Ahmet, Ayasofya Meydanı No:1, 34122 Fatih İstanbul in Turkey. 

When was Hagia Sophia built?

Hagia Sophia was built around 537 AD when Emperor Justinian I of the Byzantine Empire commissioned its construction. 

Is it free to go inside the Hagia Sophia?

Yes, you can visit Hagia Sophia for free anytime you want throughout the year. However, if you want to explore its interiors in detail, book a Hagia Sophia guided tour for a more informative experience. 

Do I need a ticket to go inside the Hagia Sophia?

No, you do not need to buy tickets to enter the Hagia Sophia. You can enter for free anytime you want throughout the year. 

Can I take pictures inside the Hagia Sophia?

Yes, you can click pictures inside the Hagia Sophia. But, please be mindful and do not take pictures of people praying. It is a moment of solace that should not be disrupted. Also, do not bring commercial filming equipment inside the Hagia Sophia as it may disturb others. 

Is there a dress code I should follow to go inside the Hagia Sophia?

Make sure to cover your head before entering the Hagia Sophia. You will find headscarves for use at the entrance. Also, avoid clothing that shows off your knees and shoulders. 

Is going inside Hagia Sophia worth it?

Absolutely! Whether you're a history enthusiast, an art lover, or someone seeking spiritual inspiration, the Hagia Sophia is a must-visit in Istanbul. This iconic monument is not only a UNESCO World Heritage site but also a testament to the rich history of Istanbul.